Deceive the herd of Markarth as to whom to kill
Winnetou IIKarl May
It was three months after the events just described, the consequences of which, despite this long time, had not passed by us. The hope of saving Old Firehand had been fulfilled, but his recovery was exceedingly slow; he could not get up because of his great weakness, and we had given up our original idea of transporting him to the fort; he was to remain in the "fortress" until his complete recovery, where, as we had convinced ourselves, our care was sufficient for him.
Fortunately, Harry's wound had turned out to be insignificant. Winnetou had been injured in many parts of his body, but not dangerous either, and his wounds were now towards complete scarring. The scratches and twists I had received were of no consequence; they still hurt to touch, but I was hardened to pain like an Indian. Sam Hawkens had gotten away best; he had suffered a few minor bruises, which really need not be mentioned.
It was foreseeable that Old Firehand would have to spare himself for a long, long time after his full recovery; To begin the life of a Western man again at once was an impossibility for him; therefore, as soon as he could make the trip, he had made up his mind to go east to his older son and take Harry with him. So it went without saying that the stocks of skins that he had collected with his fur-hunter company could not be left lying around; they had to be used, that is, they had to be sold. Unfortunately, there was currently no opportunity at the fort, and yet it was, if not difficult, at the same time extremely inconvenient for convalescents to transport such a large amount of furs far away. How could that be remedied? One of the soldiers who had been left with us for some time for our protection helped us out with a good rate. He had learned that there was a Pedlar over on the Turkey River, who bought up everything that was offered to him and not only bartered, but also paid for the goods in cash. This man was able to help us out of our embarrassment.
But how do you get him here? We couldn't send him a messenger because we had no one but the soldiers with us, and none of them were allowed to leave his post. Then there was no other way than that one of us had to leave to inform the Pedlar. I offered to ride to the Turkey River, but my attention was drawn to the fact that the Okananda Sioux, who were very dangerous for the whites, were now practicing there. The pedlar could confidently venture to see them, for the Reds rarely do anything to a trader because they can barter everything they need from these people; the more other white people had to watch out for them, and even if I wasn't exactly afraid, I was glad that Winnetou offered to accompany me. We could get away with it because Old Firehand had had enough of Sam Hawkens and Harry. They looked after him, and the soldiers, who took turns hunting, provided food. So we set out and, since Winnetou knew the area very well, we came to the Turkey River or Turkey Creek on the third day. There are several small rivers of that name; the one I am referring to is known for the many and bloody clashes which the whites have had with the various tribes of the Sioux there in the course of time.
So how do you find the Pedlar? When he was with the Indians, we had to be extremely careful. But there were also white settlers on the river and near it who had dared to settle there a few years ago, and so it was advisable to first visit one of them to inquire about him. So we rode along the river, but without finding a trace of an apartment, until, towards evening, we finally saw a field of rye, which was followed by other fields. At a brook which poured its water into the river, there was a fairly large log house made of rough, strong tree trunks, with a garden surrounded by a strong fence. To the side of it, a fence of the same type enclosed a free space on which a few horses and cows were located. We rode there, dismounted, tied up our horses and wanted to go to the house, which had narrow, loopholes-like windows. Then we saw a double barrel of rifle pointing at us from two of these windows, and a harsh voice called out to us:
"Stop! Stands still! There is no pigeon house here where you can fly in and out as you please. Who are you, white man, and what do you want here? "
"I am a German and am looking for the Pedlar who is supposed to be in this area," I answered.
“So see where you can find him! I have nothing to do with you. Troll away! "
“But, sir, you will be sensible enough not to refuse me the information if you can give it. You only turn rabble out of the door. "
"What you say is very correct, and that is why I am sending you away."
"So you think we're rabble?"
"That's my thing; don't really need to tell you; but your statement that you are a German is in any case a lie. "
"It's the truth."
»Pshaw! A German does not dare to come here that far; it ought to be Old Firehand who is. "
"I come from him."
"Your? Hm! Where from? "
“Three days' ride from where he is camped. Perhaps you have heard of it? "
"A certain Dick Stone was there once, and he did tell me that he had to ride about this far to get to Old Firehand, of which he was part."
“He's no longer alive; he was a friend of mine. "
"Might be; but I must not trust you, because you have a red with you, and the present times are not like letting people of this color come in. "
"If this Indian comes to you, you must regard it as an honor for yourself, for he is Winnetou, the chief of the Apaches."
“Winnetou? All weathers if that were true! Let him show me his rifle! "
Winnetou took his silver box from his back and held it so that the settler could see it when he called:
“Silver nails! That's true. And you, white men, have two rifles, one large and one small; that's when I get an idea. Is the big one a bear killer? "
"And the little one, a henry sock?"
"And you have a prairie name that is different from your real name that you told me?"
"Are you Old Shatterhand who is supposed to be a German from over there?"
"Yes, I am."
“Then come in, come in quickly, Mesch'schurs! Such people are of course very welcome to me. You should have everything your heart desires when I have it. "
The rifle barrels disappeared, and a moment later the settler appeared under the door. He was a fairly old, strong, and strong-boned man who you could tell at first glance that he had struggled with his life without allowing himself to be thrown. He held out both hands to us and led us into the interior of the log cabin, where his wife and son, a young, sturdy lad, were. We learned that two other sons were employed in the forest.
The interior of the house consisted of a single room. Rifles and various hunting trophies hung on the walls. Boiling water boiled in an iron kettle over the simple stone-built stove; the most necessary dishes stood on a board. Some boxes served as wardrobes and pantries, and so much smoked meat hung from the ceiling that the family of five could live on it for months. In the front corner there was a table made by himself with a few chairs of the same kind. We were asked to sit down there and, while the son was outside looking for our horses, the settler and his wife served us a dinner which, given the circumstances, left nothing to be desired. During the meal the two sons came out of the forest and sat down with us without much ado, in order to reach us properly, without taking part in the conversation that their father had with us exclusively.
“Yes, Mesch'schurs,” he said, “you mustn't hold it against me for speaking harshly to you. You have to reckon with the Reds here, especially the Okananda Sioux, who recently attacked a log cabin a day's ride from here. And the whites are almost even less to be trusted, because only those come here who are no longer allowed to be seen in the east. That is why one is doubly pleased when one gets to see gentlemen like you are. So you want the Pedlar? Do you intend to do business with him? "
"Yes," I replied, while Winnetou, as usual, remained silent.
“What kind of thing is it? I don't ask out of curiosity, but to give you information. "
"We want to sell him furs."
"For goods or money?"
"Money where possible."
“There he is your husband, and the only one you can find here. Other pedlars only exchange; But he always has money or gold with him because he also visits the Diggins. He's a capitalist, I tell you, and not a poor devil who carries all his stuff around on his back. "
“Hmm, honestly! What do you call honest? A pedlar wants to do business, wants to earn and will not be so stupid as to miss out on an advantage. Anyone who lets himself be deceived by him is your own fault. This one is called Burton; he understands his subject from the ground up and does it in such a way that he always travels with four or five assistants. "
"Where do you think he can be found now?"
“I'll find out here with me this evening. One of his assistants, named Rollins, was there yesterday to ask for orders; he rode upriver to the nearest settlers and will come back to stay until tomorrow morning. Burton has been unlucky a few times lately, by the way. "
“It has happened to him five or six times in a short time that when he came to do business he found the settlement in question looted by the Indians and burned to the ground. For him that means not only a great loss of time, but also direct damage, not counting that it is dangerous even for a pedlar to run around in the way of the Reds. "
"Did these raids happen near you?"
'Yes, if you take into account that here in the West the words near or far are taken by a different standard than elsewhere. My closest neighbor lives nine miles from here. "
"That is to be lamented, because at such distances you cannot stand by each other in the event of danger."
“Correct, of course; but still don't be afraid. The reds shouldn't come to old Corner; my name is Corner, sir. Would shine beautifully at their home! "
"Even though you are only four people?"
"Four? You can safely count my wife as a person, and as what one! She is not afraid of any Indians and knows how to handle the gun like I do. "
“I like to believe that; but when the Indians come en masse, the old saying goes: Many dogs are the death of a hare. "
»Well! But do you have to be a rabbit? I am not as famous a western man as you are, and I have neither a silver rifle nor a henry stub; but I also know how to shoot; our rifles are good, and when I close my door no red man will come in. And if there were a hundred outside, we would clean them all away, one at a time. But listen! That'll be Rollins'. "
We heard the hoof step of a horse, which was stopped outside the door. Corner went out. We heard him speak to someone and then he brought in a man whom he introduced to us saying:
"This is Mr. Rollins, whom I told you about, the pedlar's assistant you are looking for."
And turning back to the one who had entered, he continued:
“I said outside that there was a big surprise ahead of you, a surprise about what kind of men you would see with me today. These two gentlemen are Winnetou, the chief of the Apaches, and Old Shatterhand, of whom I am sure you will have heard of many times. They're looking for Mr. Burton to sell a lot of skins and furs to. "
The trader was a middle-aged man, quite an ordinary figure, without anything conspicuous in the good or bad sense. His physiognomy was not at all apt to evoke any negative judgment at first glance, and yet I did not like the expression with which he looked at us. If we were really such excellent men as he had now heard, he must be happy to get to know us; at the same time, a good deal had been promised him; that must be dear to him; but there was nothing of joy or satisfaction to be read in his features; on the contrary, I thought I noticed that it did not seem right for him to meet us. But it was easily possible that I was mistaken; What I did not like could be an entirely innocent timidity which he, the assistant to a trader, felt towards two well-known Westerners. So I overcame the prejudice, which seemed to me to be groundless, and asked him to sit down with us, since we had to talk to him on business.
He got something to eat too, but seemed to have no appetite and soon got up at the table to go out and check on his horse. It didn't take him long to do this, and yet well over a quarter of an hour passed without coming back. I can't call it suspicion, but it was something like that that made me go out too. His horse stood tied up in front of the house; but he could not be seen. It was long since evening, but the moon was so bright that I should have noticed it if it had been around. It was a long time before I saw him come around the corner of the fence. When he saw me, he stopped for a moment, but then quickly came right up to it.
"Are you a fan of moonshine promenades, Mr. Rollins?" I asked him.
"No, I'm not that poetic," he replied.
"But it seems to me!"
"You're going for a walk."
“But not for the sake of the moon. I do not feel comfortable; spoiled my stomach this morning; then long sitting in the saddle; had to make a little exercise. That's it, sir. "
He untied his horse and led it into the fence where our own had been taken; then he came after me into the house. What did I have to take care of him? He was his own master and could do what he pleased; but the western man is obliged and inclined to the greatest caution, to distrust; but the reason Rollins gave me for his removal was a perfectly sound and satisfactory one. He had eaten so little earlier, so it was easy to believe that his stomach was to blame. And then, when we were sitting together again inside, he was so naturally modest, so uninhibited and harmless that my suspicions, if I had still had any, would certainly have vanished.
We spoke, of course, of the business, of the current prices of the furs, of the treatment, the transport of them, and of everything related to our trade. He showed very good technical knowledge and brought it to light in such an undemanding manner that even Winnetou seemed to be pleased with him and took part in the conversation more than was usual in his normal practice. We told our last experiences and found very attentive listeners.Of course we also asked about the Pedlar himself, without whose presence and consent the deal could not be concluded. To which Rollins replied:
“Unfortunately I cannot tell you where my principal is today or where he will be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. I collect the assignments and deliver them to him on certain days when I know where I will meet him. How long does one have to ride to get to Mr. Firehand? "
"Hm! In six days from now, Mr. Burton will be up at Riffley Fork, so I would have time to go with you to look at the goods and determine their approximate value. Then I will report to him and bring him to you, but of course only if I am of the opinion that we can go into the business and that he agrees. What do you think of that, sir? "
“That you have to see the goods before you can buy them. Only I would prefer if we had Mr. Burton here ourselves. "
“Well, that is not the case, and even if he were here, it was wondering if he could ride with you right away. Our business is bigger than you think, and the principal does not have the time to ride three days without first knowing if he will be able to bid. I am convinced that he would not accompany you himself, but would give you one of us, and so it is very good that I can make it possible now to make the journey with you. So say yes or no so that I know where I am! "
There was not the slightest reason to reject his suggestion; on the contrary, I was convinced that I was acting entirely in the spirit of Old Firehands by answering:
“If you have the time, it is right for us that you ride with us; but then first thing in the morning! "
"Naturally! We don't have an hour, much less whole days to give away. We leave as soon as morning comes, so I suggest that we go to bed early. "
There was nothing wrong with that either, although we later learned, of course, that this man was by no means as harmless as he appeared to be. He got up at the table and helped the settler's wife spread out the furs and blankets on which to sleep. When they were done, he gave us both our seats.
"Thank you!" I said. “We prefer to lie in the open. The room is full of smoke; outside we have fresh air. "
"But, Mr. Shatterhand, you will not be able to sleep with the bright moon shining on you, and besides, it is cool at night now."
"We are used to this coolness, and as far as the moon is concerned, it does not occur to us to forbid it to look wherever it pleases."
He made a few more attempts to dissuade us from this plan, but in vain. We took no offense, and only later, when we had got to know him, did we remember, too late to be sure, that this persuasion of his had actually been conspicuous; we should have noticed the intentionality.
Before we went out, the landlord made the remark against us:
“I'm used to locking the door. Should I leave it open today, Mesch'schurs? "
"You could have something to wish for."
“We won't wish anything. In these areas it is not advisable to keep the doors unlocked at night. If we had something to say to you, we would do it through the window. "
"Yes, they won't be closed."
When we stepped out of the house, we heard clearly that the landlord was pushing the bolt on the door behind us. The moon was so low that the building cast its shadow over the enclosure in which the horses were; so we went there to lie in the dark. Swallow and Winnetou's horse had crouched side by side; I spread my blanket next to the former, lay down on it, and took the black horse's neck to the pillow, as I had often done before. Not only was he used to this, but he was very fond of it. I soon fell asleep.
I might have slept for an hour when I was woken up by a movement of my horse. It never moved as long as I lay with him, except when something unusual happened; now it had raised its head and was suspiciously sucking air through its nostrils. I was up at once and went in the direction Swallow was winding, towards the Fenz; I did this in a stooped position so as not to be seen from the outside. Looking carefully over the fence, I noticed a movement, perhaps two hundred paces away, which was slowly approaching. That was a number of people who were lying on the ground and crawling over. I turned to notify Winnetou quickly; there he was already standing behind me; In my sleep he had heard the faint footsteps with which I had crept away.
"Does my brother see the figures there?" I asked him.
"Yes," answered he; "They are red warriors."
"Probably Okanandas trying to raid the blockhouse."
“Old Shatterhand guessed the right thing. We have to go into the house. "
“Yes, we stand by the settler. But we can't leave the horses here, because the Okanandas would take them with us. "
“We'll take her into the house. Come quickly! It is good that we are in the shade; the Sioux don't see us there. "
We quickly returned to the horses, let them get up, and led them from the enclosed place to the house. Winnetou was just about to wake the sleepers inside through the open window when I saw that the door wasn't locked, but that a gap was open; I pushed it open completely and pulled Swallow inside. Winnetou followed me with his horse and pulled the bolt behind him. The noise we made woke those who were asleep.
"Who's there? What is there? The settler asked, jumping up.
"It's us, Winnetou and Old Shatterhand," I replied, because he couldn't see us because the fire had gone out.
"Your? How did you get in? "
"Through the door."
"I closed it!"
"But it was open."
“All weather! I didn't have to shut the bolt all the way when you went out. But why are you bringing the horses in? "
He had pushed the bolt, but the dealer had opened it again when the settlers were sleeping so that the Indians could come in. I answered:
"Because we don't want to let them steal from us."
'Let it be stolen? By whom? "
"From the Okananda Sioux who just sneaked up to attack you."
One can imagine the excitement these words caused. Corner had said that evening that he was not afraid of them, but now that they really came, he was terrified. Rollins pretended to be as appalled as the others. Winnetou commanded silence by saying:
"Be quiet! You cannot defeat an enemy with shouting. We must come to an agreement as soon as possible about how we are to repel the Okananda from us. "
"We don't need to discuss that first," answered Corner. “We'll clean them up with our rifle, one by one, just as they come. We can recognize them because the moon shines bright enough to do so. "
"No, we won't do that," declared the Apache.
"Because one should only shed human blood when it is absolutely necessary."
"It is necessary here, because these red dogs must be taught a lesson that survivors will not easily forget."
“So my white brother calls the Indians red dogs? He may take to heart that I'm an Indian too. I know my red brothers better than he knows them. If they attack a pale face, they always have a cause. Either they have been hostile to them, or another white man has persuaded them to do so by some pretense that they have to believe. The ponkas attacked us at Old Firehand because their leader was a white man, and if these Okananda Sioux come to rob you, a pale face is certainly to blame. "
"I do not believe that."
"What you think is very indifferent to the chief of the Apaches, because he knows that it is most certainly what he says!"
“And if so, the Okanandas would have to be severely punished for being seduced. If you want to break into my house, I'll shoot you down; that is my right and I am determined to exercise it. "
“Your rights are none of our business; do you keep it when you are alone; but now Old Shatterhand and Winnetou are here, and everywhere they are they are used to being followed by them. Who did you buy this settlement from? "
"Bought? That I would be so stupid as to buy it! I sat here because I liked it here, and if I stay here for the time prescribed by the law, it will be mine. "
"So you didn't ask the Sioux who own this land?"
"Didn't occur to me!"
“And you wonder why they treat you as their enemy, as the thief and robber of their country? You call them red dogs? Is that where you want to shoot her? Just do one shot and I'll put a bullet through your head! "
"But what should I do?" Asked the settler, now meek that he was addressed in this way by the famous Apache.
"You should do nothing, nothing at all," replied the latter. “Me and my brother Old Shatterhand will act for you. If you follow us, nothing, nothing will happen to you. "
These speeches had changed so quickly that they had hardly taken more than a minute to complete. Meanwhile, I stood at one of the windows and looked out to watch the Okanandas approach. Nobody was to be seen yet. In any case, they only crept around the house from a distance to make sure that they had nothing to fear and that their arrival had not been noticed. Now Winnetou came up to me and asked:
"Does my brother see you coming?"
"Not yet," I answered.
"Do you agree with me that we don't kill any of them?"
"Completely. The settler stole their land from them, and maybe there is another reason for their coming. "
"Most likely. But how do we do it to drive them from here without shedding blood? "
"My brother Winnetou knows that as well as I do."
“Old Shatterhand is guessing my thoughts as always and always. We'll catch one of them. "
“Yes, the one who comes to the door to listen. Or not?"
"Yes. In any case, a scout will come to listen; we'll arrest him. "
We went to the door, pushed the bolt back, and opened it so far that there was only a small gap, just wide enough to be able to look out. I stood at this and waited. A long time passed. Inside the house it was absolutely dark and quiet. Nobody moved. Then I heard the scout coming, or rather, I did not hear him, for it was probably not the ear with which I heard his approach, but that peculiar instinct that develops in every good Westerner, told me. And a few moments later I saw him. He was lying on the ground and crawled to the door. Raising his hand, he felt the same. In no time I opened it completely, lay on top of him and grasped his neck with both hands; he tried to fight back, kicking his legs and thrashing his arms, but couldn't make a sound. I pulled it open and took him into the house, whereupon Winnetou bolted the door again.
"Turn on the light, Mr. Corner!" I asked the settler. "Let's take a look at the man."
The settler complied with this request by lighting a deer tallow candle and shining it in the face of the Indian, whom I had let go of by the neck but grabbed again by the two upper arms.
"The Brown Horse, the chief of the Okananda Sioux!" Exclaimed Winnetou. "My brother Old Shatterhand made a very good catch there!"
The Indsman had almost choked under my grip. He took a few deep breaths and then uttered dismayed:
"Winnetou, the chief of the Apaches!"
"Yes, I am," answered the said. “You know me because you've already seen me. But this one has not yet stood before your eyes. Did you hear his name that I just mentioned? "
"Yes. You felt that it was him, because he took you and brought you in without you being able to resist him. You are in our power. What do you think we'll do with you? "
"My famous brothers will release me and let me go."
"Do you really think so?"
"Because the warriors of the Okanandas are not enemies of the Apaches."
"They are Sioux, and the ponkas who attacked us recently belong to the same people."
"We have nothing to do with them."
“You mustn't tell Winnetou that. I am the friend of all red men, but whoever does wrong is my enemy, no matter what color he is. And if you claim to have nothing to do with the ponkas, that is a falsehood, because I know very well that the okanandas and the ponkas never made war against each other and are now very closely connected; so your excuse is not valid in my ears. You have come to attack these pale faces here; do you think I and Old Shatterhand will put up with this? "
The Okananda scowled before him for a while and then asked:
“Since when has Winnetou, the great chief of the Apaches, become unjust? The fame that goes out from him is due to the fact that he always endeavored not to wrong anyone. And today he stands up against me, who am in my right! "
"You are wrong, because what you want to do here is not right."
"Why not? Doesn't this land belong to us? Doesn't everyone who wants to live and stay here have permission to do so from us? "
“Those pale faces didn't do it; is it not our right to drive them away? "
"Yes; This right to deny you is far from me; but it depends on the way in which you practice it. Do you have to scorch, burn and murder to get rid of the intruders? Do you have to come secretly at night like thieves and robbers who are they but are not? every brave warrior is not afraid to show his face openly and honestly to the enemy; but you come with so many warriors at night to attack a few people. Winnetou would be ashamed to do so; wherever he goes he will tell what timid people the sons of the Okanandas are; You shouldn't even call them warriors. "
"Brown Horse" wanted to start angrily, but the Apache's eye rested on him with a look so mighty that he dared not do it, but only said in a sullen tone:
“I have acted according to the habits of all red men; the enemy is attacked at night. "
"When an attack is necessary!"
“Shall I give good words to these pale faces? Shall I ask where I can give orders? "
“You should not ask, but command; But you should not come sneaking up at night like a thief, but appear here openly, honestly and proudly as the master of this land in broad daylight. Tell them that you will not tolerate them in your field; give them a day by which they must be gone, and then, when they disregard your will, you can let your anger descend upon them. If you had acted like this, I would see in you the chief of the Okananda, who is my equal; but as it is, I see in you a person who sneakily sneaks up on others because he does not dare openly to them. "
The Okananda stared into a corner of the room and said nothing; what could he have said to the Apache! I had let go of his arms; So he stood before us free, but admittedly in the attitude of a man who is aware that he is not in an enviable situation. A faint smile went over Winnetou's serious face as he turned to me with the question:
“'Brown Horse' thought we'd let him go. What does my brother Old Shatterhand say about that? "
"That he made a mistake," I answered.“Anyone who comes like a murder burner is treated as a murder burner. He forfeited life. "
"Is Old Shatterhand trying to murder me?" The Okananda snapped.
"No; i'm not a killer Whether I murder someone or whether I punish them with a well-deserved death, that makes a big difference. "
"Do I deserve to die?"
"That is not true. I am in the area that belongs to us. "
“You are in the wigwam of a pale face; Whether this is in your field is irrelevant. Whoever enters my wigwam without my permission has to expect death according to the laws of the West. My brother Winnetou told you how you should have acted and I completely agree with him. Nobody can blame us if we take your life now. But you know us and you know that we never shed blood unless it is absolutely necessary. Perhaps it is possible to come to an agreement with you through which you can save yourself. Turn to the chief of the Apaches; he will tell you what to expect. "
He had come to judge, and now we stood before him as judges; he was in great embarrassment; this could be seen in him, although he tried very hard to hide it. He would have liked to say something more in his defense, but could not say anything. That is why he preferred to be silent and looked the Apache in the face with an expression that was half that of expectation and half that of suppressed anger. Then his eye wandered over to Rollins, the pedlar's assistant. At that moment I did not know whether this was a coincidence or whether it was done on purpose, but it seemed to me that there was an invitation to support him in this look. The named really took care of him by addressing Winnetou:
“The Apache chief won't be bloodthirsty. Even here in the Wild West it is customary to only punish acts which have actually been carried out; but nothing has happened here that must be followed by a punishment. "
As I saw, Winnetou gave him a suspiciously searching look and replied:
“What I and my brother Old Shatterhand have to think and decide we know without anyone needing to tell us. So your words are useless, and you may remember that a man should not be a gossip, but only talk when it is necessary. "
Why this rebuke? Winnetou hardly knew it himself, but as it turned out later, his tried and tested instinct had once again found the right thing to do. Turning back to the Okananda, he went on:
“You heard the words of Old Shatterhand; his opinion is mine too. We don't want to shed your blood, but only if you tell me the truth now. Don't try to deceive me; you would not succeed. So honestly tell me why you came here. Or should you be so cowardly as to deny it? "
"Uff!" Said the question angrily. “The Okananda warriors are not as timid as you were trying to say. I do not deny We wanted to raid this house. "
"What should be done with the residents?"
"We wanted to kill her."
"Did you decide this on your own initiative?"
The Okananda hesitated to answer; therefore Winnetou expressed himself more clearly:
"Did anyone give you this idea?"
Even now the person asked was silent, which in my eyes meant as much as saying yes aloud.
"The Brown Horse seems to have no words," continued the Apache. “He may consider that this is his life. If he wants to get it, he has to talk. I want to know whether there is someone who was responsible for this attack who is not one of the Okanandas' warriors. "
"Yes, there is one," said the prisoner at last.
"Who is it?"
"Would the Apache chief betray an ally?"
"No," admitted Winnetou.
"You mustn't be angry with me like that, even if I don't mention mine."
“I'm not angry with you. Whoever betrays a friend deserves to be slain like a mangy dog. So you may hide the name; but I need to know if the man is an Okananda. "
"Does he belong to another tribe?"
"So is he white?"
"Is he outside with your warriors?"
"No; he is not here."
“So it's just the way I thought it was, and my brother Old Shatterhand suspected it too: a pale face has a hand in it. That should make us mild. If the Okananda Sioux do not want to tolerate an illegal settlement of the pale faces in the territory belonging to them, then this is not to be blamed for them; but that doesn't mean they need to kill. The intention was there; However, it did not come to fruition, and so its chief shall be given life and freedom if he accepts the condition I set him. "
"What do you ask of me?" Asked "Brown Horse".
“Two things. First, you must renounce the white man who seduced you. "
The Okananda did not like this condition; but after some hesitation he agreed to her; when he then asked about the second, the answer was:
“You are asking this pale face here, who calls itself Corner, to buy the settlement from you or to leave it. Only when he fulfills neither of these two requirements will you return with your warriors to drive him from here. "
'Brown Horse' responded more quickly to this; but the settler was against it. He invoked the Homestead Act and produced a long speech to which Winnetou gave him the short answer:
“We only know the pale faces as robbers of our lands; what is law, right, or custom in such people is none of our business. If you think you can steal land here and then be protected from punishment by your law, that's your business. We did what we could for you; you cannot ask for more. Now Old Shatterhand and I will smoke the calumet with the chief of the Okananda to show what we have agreed. "
It was spoken in such a tone that Corner refrained from arguing against it. Winnetou stuffed his pipe of peace, and then the bargain we had made with the "Brown Horse" was sealed among the ordinary, well-known ceremonies. I hardly doubted whether the Okananda chief could be trusted, and Winnetou was of the same opinion, for he went to the door, pushed the bolt back and said to him:
“May my red brother go out to his warriors and lead them away; we are convinced that -he will do what he has promised. "
The Okananda left the house. We closed again behind him and stood at the window so that, as cautious people, we could follow him with our eyes as far as possible. He went only a few paces and then stopped in the moonlight; so he wanted to be seen by us. Stuck two fingers in his mouth, he let out a shrill whistle, to which his warriors came rushing. They were, of course, very astonished to see him summon them so loudly and conspicuously, when he had instructed them to be extremely careful and not to make any noise. Then he explained to them in a loud voice so that we could hear every word:
“Let the Okananda warriors hear what their chief has to say to them! We have come to chastise pale-faced Corner for nestling here with us without our permission. I crept forward to peer around the house, and I would have done so if it weren't for the two most famous men of the prairie and the mountains. Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, the chief of the Apaches, have come to camp at this house that night. They heard and saw us coming and opened their strong arms to receive me without my being able to suspect it; I became their prisoner and pulled into the house by Old Shatterhand's fist. To have been defeated by him is not a shame, but an honor to forge an alliance with him and Winnetou and smoke the calumet. We did that and decided that the pale faces who inhabit this house should be given life if they either buy it or leave it at a time which I will determine for them. This has been firmly determined between us and I will keep the word I have given. Winnetou and Old Shatterhand stand at the windows and hear what I tell my warriors now. There is peace and friendship between us and them. May my brothers follow me to return home after our wigwams. "
He went and disappeared with his people around the corner of the Fenz. We all left the house, of course, to see them and make sure they were really leaving. They did, and we were sure it would never occur to them to return. So we got our horses out of the house and lay down with them where we had previously been. But Rollins, the dealer, was suspicious and went after them to watch them even longer. Later it turned out, of course, that he had left for a completely different reason. We didn't know when he'd returned, but when we got up that morning he was there. He sat with the landlord on a log that served as a bench in front of the door.
Corner offered us a good morning, which sounded by no means friendly. He was furious with us because he believed that it would have been better for him if we'd all cleaned up the reds, as he put it. Now he either had to go or pay. Incidentally, I didn't feel too sorry for him; why had he ventured into this territory. What would you say in Illinois or Vermont if a Sioux Indian came, sat down with his family in an area he liked, and said, "This is mine!"
We cared nothing of his quarrel, thanked him for what he had enjoyed and rode away.
The trader accompanied us, of course, but it was almost as if he had not been with us, for he did not stick to us, but rode after us at a certain distance, much like a subordinate who did this in this way To show his respect to superiors. There was nothing conspicuous about it in itself and was even dear to us because we could talk to each other undisturbed and did not have to deal with him.
Only after a few hours did he come to our side to talk to us about the deal to be concluded. He inquired about the types and quantities of fur stores Old Firehand intended to sell, and we gave him whatever information we were able to give. He then asked about the area where Old Firehand was waiting for us and how he kept his skins there. We could have answered this question, but we did not do so because we did not even know him and it is not at all the custom of a western man and hunter to talk about the hiding places where he secretly keeps his supplies. We didn't care whether he resented this or not; from now on he held back again, and at an even greater distance than before.
On the way back we had taken the same direction from which we had come, and consequently found no reason to examine the area through which we rode as we would have had if we had not known it. Of course, this did not rule out the caution that the Westman himself uses in places that he knows as well as his pocket. So we always looked for traces of people or animals, and this constant attention was the reason that around noon we noticed a trail which we might otherwise have missed because obviously great care had been taken to cover it up. Perhaps we would still have overlooked them if we hadn't met them at a point where they had stopped for a short rest and the grass they had pressed down had not yet fully straightened up. We stopped, of course, and dismounted to examine the trail. While we were doing this, Rollins came up and also jumped out of the saddle to look at the impressions.
"Whether this is from an animal or from a person?" He asked.
Winnetou did not answer; But I thought it impolite to keep silent too, so I made the following remark:
“You don't seem to be very skilled at tracking. Here the first glance must tell you who was there. "
"I don't think so, because the grass would be much more trodden."
"Do you think there are people here who take the pleasure of trampling the ground, only to be discovered and wiped out?"
"No; but horses cannot be dealt with at all, causing clearer traces. "
"The people who were here just didn't have horses."
“No horses? That would be conspicuous, maybe even suspicious. I think no one who is not mounted can exist in this area. "
“Is my opinion too; but have you not yet seen or heard that someone has lost his horse in any way? "
“That I suppose. But you are not talking about one, but about several people. One can lose his horse, but whether several - - - ?! «
He acted so precociously, although he did not seem to understand much; I would not have answered him again, even if Winnetou had not asked me now:
"Does my brother Old Shatterhand know what happened to this trail?"
“Three pale faces without horses; they carried sticks in their hands, not rifles. They left here, one stepping in the other's footsteps and the one behind trying to obliterate the impressions; so they seem to assume that they are being followed. "
“It seems like that to me too. Maybe they have no weapons at all? "
“At least these three whites don't have rifles. Since they have rested, we should see the marks on their rifles. "
"Hm! Strange! Three unarmed pale faces in this dangerous area! This can only be explained by the fact that they were unlucky, perhaps even attacked and robbed. "
“My white brother has exactly my opinion. These men leaned on sticks which they broke off; you can clearly see the holes in the ground. You need help. "
"Does Winnetou want us to give it to them?"
“The Apache chief is happy to help anyone who needs him and doesn't ask if it's white or red. But Old Shatterhand may dictate what we do. I want to help, but I have no confidence. "
“Because the behavior of those pale faces is ambiguous. You have taken great pains to erase your traces further; why haven't they devoured them here at the camp as well? "
“Maybe they thought they didn't have time. Or: that they rested here, you could know that; but where they went then they wanted to hide it. "
“Perhaps it is as my brother says; but then these whites are not good Westerners, but inexperienced people. We want to go after them to help them. "
"I am happy to agree, especially since it does not appear that we need to deviate much from our direction."
We went up again; But Rollins hesitated and said in a questionable tone:
'Isn't it better to leave these people to their own devices? It can't do us any good to ride after them. "
"Not us, of course, but them," I replied.
"But we're missing our time!"
"We're not so rushed to fail to help people-who are very likely to need help."
I said that in a somewhat sharp tone; he growled a few disgruntled words in his beard and mounted his horse to follow us, as we were now following the trail.I still had no real confidence in him, but it did not occur to me to think that he was as extraordinarily cunning as he really was.
The track left the forest and the bushes and led out onto the open savannah; it was fresh, no more than an hour old, and as we were riding fast, it wasn't long before we saw those we were looking for. They might be about an English mile from us when we saw them, and we were only halfway through that distance when they noticed us. One of them looked around, saw us and told the others. They stopped for a while, what seemed to be shock; but then they began to run as if it were their lives. We drove our horses on; Of course it was easy for us to catch up with them, but before we reached them I called out a few reassuring words and this caused them to stop.
They were really unarmed, completely unarmed; they hadn't even had a knife to cut off their sticks, they had broken them off; but their suits were in good condition. One of them had a cloth wrapped around his forehead, and the other had his left arm in a bandage; the third was unharmed. They looked at us with suspicious, even fearful looks.
"What are you running like that, Mesh'schurs?" I asked when we stopped at their place.
"Do we know who and what you are?" Answered the oldest of them.
“That was the same. We could be who we wanted, we would have caught up with you in any case; therefore your race was useless. But you don't need to worry; we are honest people and, when we saw your trail, we rode after you to ask you whether we might be able to serve you with something. We suspected that your current state of health was not exactly what you wanted. "
“You weren't wrong about that, sir. It has fared badly for us and we are glad that we at least got the bare life. "
“I'm sorry. Who played along with you in this way? White people? "
"Oh no, but the Okananda Sioux."
“Oh this one! When?"
"Up there on the upper Turkey River."
“How did that come about? Or do you perhaps think that I shouldn't ask about it? "
“Why not, if you really are what you say you are, honest people. If so, you will probably allow us to ask for your names. "
“You should find out. This red gentleman here is Winnetou, the chief of the Apaches; I am called Old Shatterhand, and that third man is Mr. Rollins, a pedlar who joined us on business. "
»Heigh-day, because any mistrust is completely excluded! We have heard enough of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, even if we cannot count ourselves among the Westmen. These are two men who can be relied on in every situation, and we thank heaven that it has led you on our way. Yes, we are in need of help, very needy, Mesch'schurs, and you deserve God's reward if you want to take care of us a little. "
“We'll be happy to; just tell us in what way this can happen! "
“You have to find out who we are first. My name is Warton; this one is my son and the other one is my nephew. We're coming over from the Neu-Ulm area to settle on the Turkey River. "
"A great carelessness!"
"Unfortunately! But we did not know this. Everything was made so beautiful and easy for us; it sounded like all you had to do was sit down and collect the harvests. "
“And the Indians? Didn't you think of this at all? "
"Oh yes; but they were described to us quite differently from the way we found them. We came well equipped to first look at the opportunity and choose a piece of good land. We fell into the hands of the Reds. "
"Thank God that you are still alive!"
“Of course, of course! It only looked far worse than it did afterwards. The fellows talked about the torture stake and other beautiful things; but then they contented themselves with taking everything we possessed apart from our clothes and then chasing them away. They seemed to have more necessary things to do than dragging themselves with us. "
“More necessary things? Have you found out what that was? "
“We don't understand their language; but when the chief spoke to us in English, he mentioned a settler named Corner, which it seemed they were targeting. "
"That's true. They wanted to attack him in the evening, so they didn't have the time or inclination to deal with you. You owe your life to this! "
"But what a life!"
“A life that is not a life. We have no weapon, not even a knife, and we cannot shoot or catch game. We have been eating roots and berries since yesterday morning, and that too stopped here on the prairie. I think if we hadn't met you we'd starve to death. Because I can hope that you can help us out with a piece of meat or something? "
"We will; but say where you actually want to go! "
"To Wilkes Fort."
"Do you know the way there?"
"No, but we thought we were roughly in the right direction."
“That is the case, though. Do you have a reason to want to go there? "
“The best there is. I already said that the three of us had gone ahead to see the country; our relatives have followed and are waiting for us at Wilkes Fort. If we reach this place happily, then we are helped. "
“You've got it right now. We're all heading in the same direction with you and are in good contact with Wilkes Fort. You can join us. "
"Really? Will you allow us to do that, sir? "
"Naturally. We can't let you down here. "
“But the Reds took our horses; so we have to walk, and that will cost you time! "
“There is nothing to be done about that. Now sit down and rest; above all you should have something to eat. "
The Pedlar did not seem to agree with this course of the matter; he swore softly to himself and mumbled something about missing time and useless benevolence; but we didn't pay attention, got down, camped out on the grass and gave the three needy food to eat. They enjoyed it, and then, when they had rested, we continued the interrupted ride, turning from their previous direction and turning into our previous one. They were very happy that we had found them and would have liked to talk to us more if we, Winnetou and I, had been more talkative people.
As for the Pedlar, they tried several times to get him to talk and tell, but in vain; he was angry at our meeting with them and sharply rejected them. That made him even more disagreeable to me than he had been to me before, and as a result I now paid him more, though secretly, attention than I had had for him until now. The result of this attention was very different from what one might think.
I noticed that when he thought he was not being watched, a scornful smile or an expression of gleeful satisfaction slipped across his face. And when that was the case, he always cast a keen, inquiring look at Winnetou and me. That certainly meant something, something that was not beneficial to us. I watched him more closely, being so careful that he couldn't see it, and then saw a second one.
Sometimes he looked at one of the three pedestrians, and when the eyes of both met, they quickly slipped from one another, but I felt as if a certain, secret understanding was to be noticed. Should the four know each other, should they even belong together? Should the repulsive nature of the Pedlar just be a mask?
But what reason could he have for deceiving us? The other three were indebted to us. Couldn't I be wrong?
Strange! The - - I would almost like to say, the congruence of feelings, opinions and thoughts between the Apache and me was also asserted again now. Just as I was thinking about the observation I mentioned, he stopped his horse, dismounted, and said to old Warton:
“My white brother has gone long enough; he likes to sit on my horse. Old Shatterhand will be happy to borrow his too. We are very fast runners and will keep pace with our horses. "
Warton pretended not to accept this service, but gladly complied; his son got my horse. The Pedlar should actually have lent his to his nephew, but did not do so; therefore he later took turns with the son.
Since we were now on foot, it could not have been noticed that we were walking behind them. We held back so far that the others could not understand our words, and we were so careful about using the Apache language.
"My brother Winnetou gave his horse for some other reason, not out of pity?" I asked him.
"Old Shatterhand guesses," he replied.
"Did Winnetou watch the four men too?"
“I saw that Old Shatterhand was suspicious, so I kept my eyes open. But I had noticed various things before. "
"My brother will guess."
"Probably the bandages?"
"Yes. One has his head bandaged and the other has his arm in a bandage. These wounds are said to come from yesterday's meeting with the Okananda Sioux. Do you think the?"
"No; I think rather that these people were not wounded at all. "
“It's not you. Since we met them we have passed two bodies of water without them stopping to cool their wounds. But if the wounds are a lie, it is also a lie that they were attacked and robbed by the Okanandas. And did my white brother watch her eat? "
"Yes. They ate a lot. "
“But not as much and as hastily as someone who has only been enjoying berries and roots since yesterday. And they are said to have been attacked at the upper Turkey Creek. Can you be here by now? "
"I don't know because I haven't been to Upper Creek yet."
“They could only be here if they'd ridden. So they either have horses or they haven't been to Upper Turkey. "
"Hm! Suppose they have horses, why do they deny it and who have they entrusted the animals to? "
“We'll research that. Does my brother Old Shatterhand think the Pedlar is an enemy of theirs? "
"No; he pretends to be. "
“He does; i saw it too. He knows her. Maybe he even belongs to them. "
“But why this secrecy? What reason and what purpose can it have? "
"We can't guess, but we'll find out."
"Don't we want to tell them straight to the face what we think of them?"
“Because their secrecy can also have a cause that is none of our business. These four men can be honest people despite the distrust they inspire in us. We must not offend them; we cannot say anything until we are convinced that they are bad people. "
"Hm! My brother Winnetou puts me to shame at times. Sometimes he is far more delicate than I am. "
"Is that what Old Shatterhand is trying to blame me for?"
"No. Winnetou knows that this is far from me. "
“Howgh! No harm should be done to anyone until you know that he deserves it. Better to suffer an injustice than to commit one. My brother Shatterhand likes to think. Does the pedlar have a reason to plan evil against us? "
"Not at all. Rather, he has every reason to be friendly to us. "
"That's the way it is. He wants to see our supplies; his master is said to do good business with Old Firehand. But this cannot happen if something hostile is carried out against us along the way. We would never tell you where Old Firehand and its treasures are. So even if this dealer plans an evil deed for later, until he has seen the supplies, we have nothing to fear from him. Does my brother agree with me? "
"And now the three men who pretend to be settlers attacked - - -"
"It's not you."
"No; they are something else. "
"Whatever the case, as long as we are on our way, we cannot expect any harm from them either."
“But then maybe? When we get to the fortress with them? "
Winnetou smiled to himself. "My brother Shatterhand has the same thoughts as me once again!"
"This is not a wonder; this assumption is so close; there is almost no other. "
"That these four are all traders and belong together?"
"Yes. Corner said yesterday that Burton the Pedlar worked with four or five assistants. Maybe this supposed old Warton is called Burton. Both names sound similar to each other. He's been near Comer's settlement and Rollins, the assistant, was gone that night. He has informed his master of the great deal he can do, and he has joined us with two other assistants on the way. "
“But with what purpose? In good or bad? What does my white brother mean? "
“Hm, I want to say the latter. If the intention weren't bad, it could only consist of entering us under a false flag in order to be able to assess the supplies ourselves without letting us notice that he is the real dealer, the owner of the shop. But that's actually no use, because the assistant can probably just as easily do the appraisal. "
"That's right. So there is only one thing left: the three of them want to come to us with Rollins' assistant to see the skins and then take them from us without payment. "
"So robbery, even murder?"
"I suppose so too."
“It's the right thing. We are dealing with bad people! But on the way we don't need to worry; nothing will happen to us. The act should only be carried out when all four are in the fortress. "
“And that is very easy to avoid. We have to take Rollins with us; that cannot be avoided; but we shall say goodbye to the others beforehand; we have good reason to do so, because they want to go to their families after the fort. Nevertheless, we must not miss any caution on the way. We believe we have hit the right thing, but we can still be mistaken. We must keep a keen eye on these four men not only during the day but also during the night.
“Yes, we have to, for it can be assumed that someone with their horses is always around. Only one of us is allowed to sleep at a time; the other must be awake and ready for battle, but in such a way that these people do not notice. "
These were the messages we made to one another. Winnetou had once again found the right thing with his acumen, the right thing, but not the whole thing; Had we been able to guess what this latter consisted of, we would hardly have been able to remain outwardly calm and to hide our excitement from our companions.
We did not take our horses back during the afternoon, although they were repeatedly offered to us. When evening fell we would have preferred to camp on the open, open prairie, because there we had the necessary panoramic view and could more easily see any approach of something that had hitherto been hidden from us; but there was a sharp wind, which brought rain with it, and we would have become thoroughly wet; so we preferred to ride on until we came to a forest. At the edge of it there were some tall and very leafy trees, the canopy of which kept the rain away. This formed a comfort for us, to which we subordinated the danger that probably still existed for us to-day, and which we could counter with the usual caution, if it should arise against all expectations.
Our provisions were only calculated for two people; but Rollins had some with him too, and so it was enough for all of us tonight; there was still some left, and tomorrow we could look after a game.
After eating, you should actually sleep; but our companions did not feel like it yet; they talked very vigorously, although we forbade them to speak loudly. Even Rollins had become talkative, telling some of the adventures he wanted to see on his trading trips. Of course there was no sleep for Winnetou and me either; so we had to stay awake although we did not take part in the conversation.
This conversation did not seem entirely accidental to me; it gave me the impression that it was deliberately conducted in this way. Was this supposed to divert our attention from the surroundings? I watched Winnetou and noticed that he had the same thought, for he had all his weapons, including his knife, at hand and kept a sharp lookout in all directions, although only I, who knew him well, noticed this. His eyelids were almost completely lowered on his eyes, so that it seemed as if he were asleep; but I knew that he was watching everything very carefully through his eyelashes. The same was of course the case with me.
The rain had stopped and the wind was no longer blowing as stiffly as before. We would have liked to move the camp out into the open, but this could not happen without causing offense and contradiction; therefore it had to stay as it was.
There was no fire. Since the area we were in belonged to the enemy Sioux Indians, we had had a good excuse to forbid the lighting of a flame. A fire was bound to betray us not only the Reds, but also the possible allies of our companions, and since our eyes were used to the darkness, we were certain of not only hearing but also seeing every approach. For the time being, however, listening was made even more difficult by the conversation; but the more active were our eyes.
As I said, we sat under the trees at the edge of the forest and turned our faces towards the forest, for it was to be assumed that if an enemy should approach us, he would do so from there. Then the thin crescent of the moon rose and cast its faint, faint light under the tree-top that arched over us. The conversation was still going on uninterrupted; the words were not addressed directly to us, but it was evident that our attention was to be riveted and diverted from others. Winnetou was stretched out on the floor with his left elbow in the grass and his head in the cupped hand. Then I noticed that he was slowly and quietly pulling his right leg closer to his body so that the inside knee formed an obtuse angle. Was he going to get a knee shot, the famous but extremely difficult knee shot that I have already described elsewhere?
Really! He grabbed the butt of his silver rifle and, apparently without any intention or just playing with it, placed the barrel close to his thigh. I followed the current direction of this course with my eye and saw a bush under the fourth tree of ours, between the leaves of which a faint, faint, phosphorescent shimmer could be noticed, although this was only noticeable to the trained eye of a man of that sort of the Apache. They were two human eyes; there was someone in the bushes watching us. Without making a noticeable movement, Winnetou wanted to shoot him through the knee shot between the eyes, which were only visible. The muzzle of the rifle was a little higher, then the eyes were fixed. I waited with the greatest tension for the next moment; Winnetou never missed his target, even at night and with this difficult shot. I saw that he put his finger on the trigger; but he did not shoot; he took his finger away again and lowered the rifle to stretch his leg again. The eyes could no longer be seen; they were gone.
"A clever fellow!" He whispered to me in the language of the Apaches.
"Someone who is at least familiar with the knee shot, even if he can't do it himself," I answered him softly in the same dialect.
"It was a pale face."
"Yes. A Sioux, and there are only those here, doesn't open its eyes so wide. We now know that an enemy is nearby. "
"But he also knows that we know his presence."
"Unfortunately. He saw from it that you wanted to shoot him and will now be very careful! "
"That doesn't do him any good, because I sneak up on him."
"He'll guess as soon as you get away from here."
»Pshaw! I pretend to check on the horses. That is not noticeable. "
"Better leave it to me, Winnetou!"
“Shall I put you in danger because I shy away from it? Winnetou saw the eyes sooner than you and so has the right to take hold of the man first. My brother may only help me to get away without the man knowing who it is. "
As a result of this request, I waited a little longer and then turned to the companions deep in their conversation:
“Now stop it! We leave early tomorrow and want to sleep now. Mr. Rollins, have you tied your horse well? "
"Yes," answered the questioned person in an unwilling tone of this disturbance.
"Mine is still free," said Winnetou aloud. “I'm going to pick it up out in the grass so it can eat during the night. Should I take my brother Shatterhand's too? "
"Yes," I agreed, so that it would appear that it was really about the horses.
He rose slowly, wrapped his santillo blanket around his shoulders, and walked to lead the horses a distance. I knew that he would then lie down on the ground and crawl toward the forest. He couldn't use the santilla blanket for this; he had taken her anyway to deceive the person concerned.
The briefly interrupted conversation was now resumed; this was partly dear to me and partly disliked. I couldn't hear what Winnetou was doing, but now he, too, couldn't be heard by whoever he was trying to sneak up on. I lowered my eyelids and pretended not to bother about anything, but watched the edge of the forest very closely.
Five minutes, ten minutes passed; it turned out to be a quarter of an hour, almost half an hour. I wanted to be afraid for Winnetou; but I knew how difficult it is to sneak up under such circumstances and how slow it is when it comes to an enemy who has keen senses and suspects that he should be taken by surprise. Then finally I heard footsteps sideways behind me, in the area after which the Apache with the horses had retreated. Turning my head slightly, I saw him coming from afar; he had put the santillo blanket around his neck again and thus rendered the hidden enemy harmless. With a relieved heart, I turned my head around again, waiting quietly for him to sit down next to me. His steps came closer and closer; they stopped behind me and a voice that was not his called out.
"Now this one!"
Looking around quickly again, I saw the santilla blanket, but the one who had put it on to deceive me was not Winnetou, but a bearded guy who looked familiar to me. He had spoken the three words and used the butt of the rifle to strike me. Rolling to one side in a flash, I tried to avoid the blow, but too late; it still hit me, not on the head, but in the neck, so in an even more dangerous place; I was immediately paralyzed and received a second blow on the skull, so that I lost consciousness.
I must have been lying like this for at least five or six hours, probably as a result of the blow in the neck, because when I came to and after a long effort managed to open my leaden eyelids a little, it was already dawn. My eyes immediately closed again; I was in a state which resembled neither sleeping nor waking, nor anything in between. I felt as if I had died and as if my spirit from eternity was listening over to the conversation that was being held on my corpse. But I couldn't understand the individual words until I heard a voice, the sound of which could have woken me from death, say:
“This Apache dog won't confess anything, and I killed the other one! What a shame! I was especially looking forward to him. He should feel it twice and ten times what it means to fall into my hands! I would give a lot, a lot, if I had only drugged him and not killed him. "
The sound of that voice literally opened my eyes; I stared at the man who, because of the thick beard he now wore, I had not recognized at the first deathly tired look. This extraordinary effect will be understandable when I say that I saw Santer, none other than Santer, sitting across from me. I wanted to close my eyes again, didn't want to let it be seen that I was still alive; but I couldn't do it; it was impossible for me to lower the eyelids, which at first had fallen so heavily on my own; I stared at him, straight ahead, without being able to take my eyes off him, until he noticed. He jumped up and shouted, his face beaming with sudden joy:
“He lives; he lives! Do you see that he has opened his eyes? Just want to see if I'm wrong or not. "
He put a question to me; when I did not answer this at once, he knelt down next to me, grabbed me by the collar here and there, and shook me up and down so that the back of my head hit hard against the stones that made up the ground at this point. I couldn't defend myself against it because I was so tied up that I couldn't move a limb. He roared:
“Do you want to answer, dog! I see that you are alive, that you are conscious, that you can answer. If you don't want to talk, I'll make you words! "
When I hit my head up and down, it got a direction that enabled me to look sideways. There I saw Winnetou lying crookedly closed, in the shape of a ring, roughly in the way that the expression "cocked into the buck" is used to describe. Such a situation would have caused the greatest pain even for a rubber man. What did he have to endure! And maybe his limbs had been tied together in this inhuman way for hours. Besides him and Santer, I only saw the alleged Warton with his son and nephew; Rollins, the pedlar's assistant, was not there.
"So, are you going to talk?" Continued Santer in a threatening tone. “Shall I loosen your tongue with my knife? I want to know if you know me, if you know who I am and if you can hear what I'm saying! "
What use would the silence have? It would only have made our situation worse. For Winnetou's sake I couldn't be stubborn. Of course, I did not know whether I could speak; I tried it, and lo and behold, it worked; I uttered the words, albeit in a weak, slurping voice:
“I know you; You are Santer. "
"So so! Do you recognize me? ”He laughed scornfully into my face. “Are you very happy? Are you delighted to see me here? A wonderful, an incomparably happy surprise for you! Not?"
I hesitated to answer that sardonic question; then he drew his knife, put the point of it on my chest and threatened:
“Do you want to say yes right away, a loud yes! Otherwise I'll stick the blade right into your body! "
Then Winnetou threw me the warning despite his pain:
"My brother Shatterhand won't say yes, he'd rather be stabbed."
"Shut up, dog!" Yelled Santer at him. “If you say one more word, we'll tighten your bonds so much that your bones will break. So, Old Shatterhand, you friend who owns all of my love, aren't you, you are delighted to see me again? "
"Yes," I answered loudly and firmly in spite of the Apache's words.
“Do you hear it? Did you hear it? ”Santer grinned triumphantly at the three others. "Old Shatterhand, the famous, invincible Old Shatterhand is so afraid of my knife that he, like a little boy, admits to feel joy in me!"
Maybe my previous condition wasn't as bad as one should think, or was this person's mockery causing this change in me, I don't know, but now I suddenly felt my head free, as if I hadn't even received the buttocks, and answered, now laughing in his face:
“You are very wrong there; I didn't say yes out of fear of your knife. "
"So? Not? Why then?"
“Because it's the truth. I'm really happy to finally see you again. "
Despite my laughter, I didn't say it ironically or scornfully, but with such an expression of truth that it struck him. He jerked his head back, raised his eyebrows, looked at me searchingly for a few moments, and then said:
"How? What? Am I right? Did the blows you received shake your brain enough to make you fantasize? Are you really happy? "
"Of course!" I nodded.
“All the devils! I would almost like to assume that this guy is speaking seriously! "
"I am absolutely serious!"
"Then you are of course crazy, completely crazy!"
“I can't think of! I am more sensible than I have ever been better. "
"Really? Then it's cheek, such a bottomless, damn cheek that has never occurred to me in my entire life! Man, I'll close you just as crookedly as Winnetou, or I'll hang you upside down on the tree, with your head down, so that your blood will spurt out of all your holes! "
"You will let that stay!"
"Let be? Why shouldn't I do it? What reason could I have? "
"One you know so well that I don't have to tell you."
“Oho! I don't know such a reason! "
»Pshaw! You do not deceive me. Always hang me! Then I'll be dead in ten minutes and you won't find out what you want to know. "
I had hit the right thing; I saw that at him. He looked over at Warton, shook his head and said:
"We thought that scoundrel was dead, but he never even passed out because he heard all of the questions I put to Winnetou without that damned redskin answering a single one of them."
"You are wrong again," I declared. “I was really stunned; but Old Shatterhand has enough grits in his head to see through you. "
"So? Well, then tell me what it is that I want to know from you! "
"Nonsense! Leave this childishness! You won't find out anything. On the contrary, I tell you that I am really happy about the meeting. We have longed for you in vain for so long that this joy must be a very sincere and heartfelt one. We have you at last, at last, at last! "
He stared at me absently for a while, then uttered a curse that cannot be reproduced, and yelled at me:
“Scoundrel, be glad I think you're mad! Because if I knew that you were in your right mind after all, and that you spoke like that with intent and deliberation, I would convince you through a thousand tortures that I am not joking with myself. So I want to be lenient with you and talk to you in peace; but if you do not answer me openly and willingly, you have to expect a death like no one has ever died. "
He sat down in front of me, looked down in front of him for a while, as if thinking, and then continued:
“You two think of yourselves as extraordinarily clever fellows, of course the very cleverest in the whole of the Wild West; but how stupid, how infinitely stupid you really are! How was this Winnetou after me back then! Did he catch me? Anyone else in his place would not be seen in front of anyone again because of shame! And now! Will you admit that you saw my eyes last night? "
"Yes," I nodded.
"He wanted to shoot me?"
“I saw it and of course disappeared on the spot. So he went off to sneak up on me. Do you admit that too? "
"Sneak up on me, hahahaha! I knew I had been noticed; every child would have said that to himself. Trying to sneak up on me anyway was stupid that cannot be compared with any other. You deserve a beating for it, you really deserve a beating. Instead of him, I sneaked into him and, when he came, struck him with a single blow of the buttocks. Then I got his blanket, which he had put down, put it on and started pounding you. What did you think when you saw that it was me instead of the Apache? "
"I was happy about it."
“About the blows you got too? at least not. You let yourself be duped like eight-year-old boys who cannot be laughed at, but only pityed. Now you are so completely in our control that salvation is absolutely impossible for you unless a mild emotion overflows me. It is not entirely out of the question that I may feel inclined to be indulgent, but only in the one and only case that you give me honest information. Look at these three men! You belong With Me; I sent them in your way to outsmart you. What do you think we are now? "
I not only had an inkling of who and what he was, but now I knew exactly; but prudence forbade me to let this be noticed; therefore I replied:
“You have always been a villain, and you still are today; I don't need to know more. "
"Nice! I want to tell you one thing: now I will take these insults calmly; when our conversation is over, the punishment comes; write that behind your ears! First of all, I want to confess very sincerely to you that we would rather reap than sow; sowing is so strenuous that we leave it to other people; but where we find a harvest that doesn't bother us very much, we grab it quickly without asking much what those people say about it who claim that the field belongs to them. That's how we've done it up to now, and that's how we will continue to do it until we've had enough. "
"When will this be the case?"
“Maybe very soon. There is a field in full, ripe fruit nearby that we want to mow down. If we can do that, we can say that we have brought our sheep into the dry. "
"Congratulations!" I said ironically.
"Thank you!" He replied as well. "Since you congratulate us and mean well to us, I assume that you will be happy to help us find this field."
"Oh, so you don't even know where it is?"
"No. We only know that it is not too far to look from here. "
"Oh no, since we will find out the place from you."
"Hmm, I doubt that."
"I don't know a field that suits you."
"You only think this. I will come to the aid of your memory. It is of course not a field in the ordinary sense, but a hiding place that we want to empty. "
"What kind of hiding place?"
"Of hides, skins and the like."
"Hm! And should I know? "
"You are probably wrong."
"Oh no. I know where I am. You admit you went to see old Comer on the Turkey River, don't you? "
"What did you want with him?"
"That was probably just a visit that you sometimes do without any intention."
“Don't try to drive me crazy. I met Corner when you were gone and learned from him who you were looking for. "
"A Pedlar called Burton."
"The old man didn't have to say that!"
"No; but he said it. Let the pedlar buy you skins, lots of skins. "
"Less to you than to Old Firehand, who commands a whole company of fur hunters and has a large supply of furs."
"All weathers, you are well informed!" "Aren't you?" He laughed gleefully, ignoring my ironic tone. “You did not find Pedlar, you only took one of his assistants and him with you. We are quick after you to arrest you and him; but the guy whose name, I think, is Rollins, got away from us while we had to deal with you. "
Accustomed to observing everything, even the seemingly insignificant, it did not escape me that when he made this insurance he glanced at where we had seen his eyes last night. This look was an unintentional, involuntary one, not sufficiently guarded by him; so he caught my eye. Was there anything in the bushes that had something to do with what he was talking about, that is, Rollins? I had to find out, but I was careful not to turn my eyes to the place in question at once, because he would probably have noticed it. He continued in his speech:
“It doesn't do any harm, because we don't need these Rollins if we only have you. You know Old Firehand? "
"And his hiding place?"
"Ah! I am delighted that you are so willing to admit this! "
»Pshaw! Why should I deny something that is true? "
»Well! So I assume that you will not cause me a great nuisance. "
"Do you really accept that?"
"Yes, because you will see that it is best for you to tell us everything."
"How is it supposed to be the best?"
"In so far as you make your fate much easier."
"What fate do you actually call ours?"
"Death. You know me and I know you; we know exactly how we stand with one another: whoever comes into the power of the other is lost, he must die. I got you, so your life is over. But now there is the question, which end? I have always had the firm intention to drag you to death slowly and with pleasure; but now that it's Old Firehand's hiding place, I don't think so strictly any more. "
"You tell me where this hiding place is and describe it to me."
"And what do we get for it?"
"A quick painless death, namely a quick bullet through the head."
"Very nice! It's very soulful, but not very wise of you. "
"In order to find a quick, easy death, we can describe any place for you, but it is not the right one."
“You consider me more careless than I am; I already know how to handle it in such a way that I receive evidence from you. I want to know beforehand whether you would be inclined to tell me the place. "
“Betray, that's the right word. You will know, however, that Old Shatterhand is no traitor. I see that Winnetou was not at your will either; perhaps he has not given you a single answer, for he is far too proud to talk to such scoundrels as you are. But I spoke to you because I had a certain intention. "
He looked me in the face at the question with great tension.
“You don't need to know that; later you will find out without me. "
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